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The development firm taking control of the former Filene’s property in downtown Boston said it will build a tower of up to 600 feet, rivaling the tallest buildings in the city’s Financial District.

A tower of that height would be roughly the size of the Federal Reserve building or One International Place, creating a new center gravity in the city’s skyline and filling a giant hole in its central shopping district. The new building will be substantially taller than the 39-tower previously proposed for the Filene’s site at Downtown Crossing.

Speaking at a press conference today, principals of Millennium Partners said the tower will cost about $500 million and include a mix of uses, from offices to residences to new shops and restaurants along the street.

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“It will really target all the potential uses that could add vitality to this critical corner,” said Philip Aarons, a founding partner of Millennium. “It will again become the center of downtown.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino expressed confidence the firm will begin construction within a year, ending the work stoppage that has left a construction crater on the site for 3 ½ years.

“They are taking control of this project and they will do it,” he said.

Millennium is teaming up with the project’s existing owner, Vornado Realty Trust of New York, which will remain a passive partner in the project. Aarons declined to identify the amount of the firm’s investment so far, but said it will be the controlling partner of the development and present a new plan within the next couple of months.

In their comments today, Millennium’s executives said they intend to build a striking tower, but one that meshes with the historic buildings nearby and establishes a more vibrant retail shopping atmosphere in Downtown Crossing, which lacks the mix of popular brands of Newbury Street and other shopping destinations.

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They also said it will also contain a substantial amount of office space and residences on its upper floors. Aarons said the firm still must secure tenants and financing to re-start construction, but expects to move forward aggressively in the coming months.

“This is an area we know, this is an area we’ve invested heavily in,” Aarons said, referring to the company’s prior development of the nearby Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Towers and its current construction of the 15-story Hayward Place project across from the Ritz.

“What excites us about the (Filene’s site) is the opportunity to do something truly spectacular,” he said.

The  project will be designed by Handel Architects of New York, which also designed Hayward Place and the Ritz, along with several skyscrapers in New York and other cities around the globe.


Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.